For my last project, I want ed to do an investigative journalism project. I wanted to put myself in the shoes of a street performer at the Eugene Saturday Market. A friend and myself recorded our point of view while performing at the Saturday Market. Below is my report on the things I saw, felt, and did while being a street performer ad the Eugene Saturday Market.
Here is a link to the footage that I shot form my point of view as a street performer.
Here is my report:
For my last and final project in J333, I thought it would be neat to do a Nellie Bly investigative journalism sort of thing. I thought I would put myself in the shoes of the street performers that play on the streets at the Eugene Saturday Market. Granted, I know that the typical investigative journalism tries to find the truth about crime and scandals, and this isn’t as juicy as looking into law breaking topics but I thought experiencing what other performers experienced would give me a different perspective on this area that make the Eugene Saturday Market so memorable. And no, I didn’t perform for the reason for getting pocket change although, not to ruin the ending, we did make $2.05.
A friend and I usually spend evenings, or any free time we might have, playing our ukulele/ bongo duets for ourselves or any ear that happens to catch the tunes. A few days ago, I thought it would be interesting to see what street performers see, what they here, who they come in contact with, and possibly what they feel, while playing at the Eugene Saturday Market. While playing for hundreds of passer-byers, I experienced what the street performers feel during their performances.
On June first, my accomplice Bryan Cargill and I set out to see what it would be like to perform for strangers on the street at the Eugene Saturday Market. Bryan was on the ukulele and I was on the bongos. When we got to the Market, we walked around a bit to find an ideal location where we could see lots of people while trying to keep our camera as least exposed as possible. I brought my small camera along with a tripod to record the performance; I wanted to get shots from my point of view. The idea was to show an audience what the street performer sees. We found a shady tree at the corner of Park St. near some artisan’s tents. We were on the outer most part of the park. The location was good because there was a lot of foot traffic. The first thing that street performers need to do is find a great location at the Market. The more populated area means the greater chance for them to make more money. If the location is poor- like not having enough foot traffic- then the amount of money the performer is hopping for may be less than they were expecting.
It can be nerve wrecking the first time someone gets up and performs in front of an audience. There is always the thought of doubt in the back of the performers mind. Thoughts like, “Maybe I’m not as good as I thought” or “No one will pay attention to us play.” But after performing over and over again, it becomes easier to perform in front of strangers and perform on the street. There is always this thought in the back of the performers mind wandering if the people listening will give to them. Of course not every person passing by is going to donate to the performer. I think the reason it’s easy for the listener not to give anything is because the performer is not necessarily authorized to be performing and therefore is not requirement to give money. Since the performer is volunteering his time in an unauthorized position, there is not as much of a requirement for the listener to give. Another reason people may not give is that they don’t have a connection with this performer and therefore do not feel obligated to give.
A few times some people we knew would stop by and listen to us play. I’m sure that many street performers that are from the Eugene area know many people who come and stop to talk. Friends that did stop always gave us some change. Perhaps they felt an obligation to put something in because they knew who we were.
One thing I wanted to see was the reactions of the people listening to the performance. Most people that walked by paid attention to us. One of the first things I realized was the people who stopped to listen and sang along usually always gave us some change. I think that there is always something in the back of the performers mind says the amount of money the performer brings in reflects how much the audience liked you.
Many people would stand to listen and watch. Some people danced, and some even sang along. I think listeners look at is as free entertainment; small street performers are a bi-product of any Saturday Market and if street performers were not at the Saturday Market, there would be a different feel in the air. My favorite part was when a lady and here baby walked by. They stopped and we watched as the lady sang the familiar song to her baby. That was the highlight of my day. Also, she gave us a dollar- I guess our performance wasn’t too bad! You can see the woman and her baby at the end of the clip. Something I noticed was that if we played a song that was familiar to sing along to, more people would take time to stop and listen.
While we played, we got many compliments on the ukulele and the bongos. It’s easier for the audience, and probably more meaningful to the player, to get a complement on his music and instruments than getting money. Many people play very unique instruments at the market. While we were there, we saw an elderly man playing a fiddle and a young guy playing a steel drum. The more unique and interesting the instrument or act, the more attraction and audience attention the performer could get.
The artist tents that we were performing by seemed to enjoy listening to the music we were performing. It gave the artists something to listen to while they were interacting with customers and selling their goods. We got complements form the artists we surrounded.
During my interview with the Saturday Market’s advertising director Kim Still, she said that a permit is required through the Market board to sell their homemade goods. A permit is not required to perform on the street. This is a form of free speech and can be preformed anywhere without a permit.
I do think people appreciate street performers at the Saturday Market. Listening to that little bit of diverse entertainment is what make the Eugene Saturday Market such a memorable place. In my opinion, street performers play to show off their talent rather than play for the money.
Throughout the hour that we were there, I got to experience what street performers experience. It was fun and exciting to be able to show off our talents for people we didn’t know. I got to see everyday people enjoy our music, make a few bucks and mostly be apart of the Eugene Saturday Market.